Chefs often cultivate culinary mysteries and closely guarded sources for favored recipes. Chef Mohan Pradhan of Himalayan Curry & Grill has a simple and not-so-secret ingredient in his cooking and for the extraordinary success of his restaurant. He learned it, along with everything he knows about cooking the traditional dishes of Nepal, from the hands of his mother and grandmother. The secret is love. In a 2018 interview with Lancaster Newspapers Chef said, “The first thing I noticed was the passion. The love that they put into the food. That’s the most important thing in any cuisine. Every chef uses the same ingredients but (their food) always tastes different, and that is because of love. That’s what I learned from them.”
When Chef Mohan and his business partner Sarmila Shrestha opened their restaurant at the end of November in 2012, they had no way of knowing that Lancaster would come to embrace Himalayan Curry & Grill with such warmth and devotion. Their mission has always been to introduce their guests to traditional Indian and Nepalese cuisine that would serve as an introduction to their culture. In return, they have been showered with an extraordinary degree of affection by an ever-growing list of loyal customers that they now consider extended family. It seems that Chef Mohan’s secret ingredient has been contagious.
Chef Mohan has prepared a menu for the Fall season of Lancaster City Restaurant Week at Himalayan Curry & Grill that features many of his guests favorite Indian and Nepalese dishes in a Dinner Special for Two at a value-filled $40.
Included as one of the entrée options on Chef Mohan’s Restaurant Week menu is one of the most popular Indian dishes for restaurants in both the United States and Britain – Chicken Tikka Masala. The origins of the dish are debatable, but it was created in Britain in the 1970s based on the Indian national dish Chicken Tikka, with the masala added to satisfy the British desire for a creamy sauce. This would make the dish the first widely accepted example of fusion cuisine.
There are countless versions of Chicken Tikka Masala, and every chef adds his spin to it. At Himalayan Curry & Grill Chef Mohan combines grilled chicken cooked in a rich, creamy tomato sauce with curry spices.
The Himalayan Curry & Grill’s regular menu features several popular national dishes of Nepal that are especially significant to Chef Mohan. Sarmila Shrestha, co-owner of the restaurant is from Katmandu and Chef grew up in Itahari. Chef Mohan points out the differences between Indian and Nepalese cuisine, the fact that in Nepal they do not use coconut, or cream, and rarely use onions. “Even in spices. The powdered spices, like cumin powder, coriander powder, nutmeg powder … all these powders. In Nepali cuisine, they don’t use powder. Very little powder. In Indian cuisine, they make curry with the powders. … In Nepali cuisine, we use cumin, but the whole cumin. When we roast the whole seed, it gives a very beautiful aroma.”
Diners choosing from the regular menu might try Chef Mohan’s version of Khasi Ko Masu (Goat Curry) – tender boneless goat cubes, cooked Nepali home-style with cilantro. Available with gravy, or dry.
We hope that you will plan a visit to the Himalayan Curry & Grill one day soon to experience the unique combination of culture and cuisine served by a warm and welcoming family and savor Chef Mohan Pradhan’s secret ingredient – love.
This season’s Lancaster City Restaurant Week Spotlight images were provided by our sponsor Michelle Johnsen Photography.